Latin America

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Spanish, Portuguese, and sometimes French parts of the Americas are called "Latin America"

Latin America is a region of the Americas. People do not completely agree which countries are in Latin America, but normally, it is the parts where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken (South America, Central America, and Mexico). Sometimes the Caribbean Islands are also included. Other people call all American countries where people speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French Latin America.[1]

Most Latin Americans are Roman Catholic.

Demographics[change | change source]

Ethnic groups[change | change source]

People in Latin America are part of several ethnic groups and races. The majority of Latin Americans are Mestizo and some others are Mulatto, Black, Zambo, and Asian.

  • Native American or indigenous. The Native population in Latin America, came during the Lithic stage. There are more than sixty million of these people. They are the majority only in Bolivia, Peru, and Guatemala. In Ecuador they are a large minority of about 1/4 of the population. Mexico's Native American population is nearly 30%, and is also one of the largest American Indian population in the Americas in terms of absolute numbers. Most of the remaining countries have Native American minorities.
  • European. In the 1500s, many Iberian colonists came to what is now Latin America. Today, most White Latin Americans are of Spanish and Portuguese origin. The Iberians brought their language, religion, and culture to Latin America.
  • African. Millions of African slaves were brought to the Americas from the early 1500s onward. The majority went to the Caribbean and Brazil. Haiti is the only country in Latin America with a Black or Mulatto majority.
  • Asian. People of Asian descent number several millions in Latin America. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese and Chinese heritage, and they mostly live in Peru and Brazil. The largest community of Japanese ethnicity living outside of Japan, resides in Brazil. There is also a growing Chinese population in Panama, as well as Costa Rica (though, Chinese Costa Ricans are a large minority). In the Dominican Republic, there is a place where large numbers of Japanese people came; most Japanese Dominicans live in towns such as Bonao and Santo Domingo.
  • Arab or Middle Eastern. Arabs in Latin America are also many, but they are mostly found among the Hispanic-Caribbean regions. In Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the Dominican Republic, the Arabs arrived sometime between the 19th and 20th century; (most are Morracians, Lebanese and East Indians).
  • NOTE: Most of these ethnic groups can be found anywhere in Latin America; but since most Latin Americans are of mixed-race, many of these ethnic groups do not reach 100%.
Ethnic distribution, in 2011[2] - Population estimates, as of 2010
Country Population Native American Whites Mestizos Mulattoes Blacks Zambos Asians
 Argentina 40,134,425 1.0% 85.0% 11.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.9%
 Bolivia 10,907,778 55.0% 13.0% 30.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Brazil 192,272,890 0.4% 53.8% 0.0% 39.1% 6.2% 0.0% 0.5%
 Chile 17,063,000 6.2% 60.7% 34.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Colombia 45,393,050 2.0% 38% 48% 0.0% 10.6% 0.0% 0.0%
 Costa Rica 4,253,897 2.4% 82.0% 10.3% 2.0% 1.0% 0.0% 2.3%
 Cuba 11,236,444 0.0% 34.3% 0.0% 35.4% 30.3% 0.0% 1.0%
 Dominican Republic 8,562,541 0.0% 16.4% 30.0% 37.7% 21.5% 2.0% 0.4%
 Ecuador 13,625,000 38.0% 10.3% 41.0% 5.0% 6.6% 0.0% 0.1%
 El Salvador 6,134,000 2.0% 11.0% 87.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Guatemala 13,276,517 43.0% 16.0% 40.0% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.8%
 Honduras 7,810,848 7.7% 5.0% 82.9% 1.7% 0.0% 2.0% 0.7%
 Mexico 112,322,757 14.0% 15.0% 70.0% 0.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5%
 Nicaragua 5,891,199 9.0% 17.0% 69.0% 5.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2%
 Panama 3,322,576 8.0% 14.0% 51.0% 13.0% 5.0% 3.0% 6.0%
 Paraguay 6,349,000 1.5% 25.0% 69.5% 3.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5%
 Peru 29,461,933 45.0% 15.2% 32.0% 4.5% 0.0% 0.0% 3.3%
 Puerto Rico 3,967,179 2.0% 72.1% 13.0% 6.7% 6.0% 0.0% 0.2%
 Uruguay 3,494,382 0.0% 88.0% 8.0% 2.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Venezuela 26,814,843 1.6% 42.9% 43.3% 7.7% 2.3% 0.0% 2.2%
Total 561,183,291 9.2% 39.1% 33.3% 14.3% 3.2% 0.2% 0.7%

Note: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

Language[change | change source]

Spanish and Portuguese are the most common languages in Latin America. Portuguese is common Brazil. Spanish is the official language of most other Latin America mainland countries, and of Cuba, Puerto Rico (along with English), and the Dominican Republic.

Many people speak Native American languages in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay and Mexico. These languages are less common in other countries.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include English (mainly in Puerto Rico), and French.

African languages are also spoken by few in Latin America. The west African Yoruba language (known as Lucumi) is spoken among the people of predominant Yoruba ancestry; it is spoken in Cuba where it is a ritual language used by the Santeria prayers.

In several nations, Creole languages are also spoken, especially in the Caribbean. Palenquero is the Spanish-based Creole language spoken in Colombia by some 3,000 people, it is Spanish with many African influences and some Portuguese influence. Other creoles in mainland Latin America have the same roots, blending Spanish with either African or Indigenous languages or both, as Cuban Spanish does.

Economy[change | change source]

Poverty and inequality[change | change source]

Poverty continues to be one of the biggest challenges for Latin American countries. According to estimates, Latin America is the most unequal regions of the world. According to a Country Studies Institute the poorest countries in the region (in 2011) were: Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Honduras. Undernourishment affects 72% of Haitians, 47% of Nicaraguans and Bolivians, and 32% of Hondurans.

Also according to a Country Studies Institute, over 90% of Haitians, 75% of Bolivians, 70% of Nicaraguans, and 63% of Hondurans live in poverty.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Colburn, Forrest D (2002). Latin America at the End of Politics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691091811.
  2. Lizcano Fernández, Francisco (May–August 2005). "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (in Spanish) (PDF). Convergencia (Mexico: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades) 38: 185–232; table on p. 218. ISSN 1405-1435. 

Other websites[change | change source]